November 2012

Contact: Catharine Hartnett

Communications Director, Jumpstart Our Youth

(207) 775-2673



 –Students who donated $68,000 last year launch 5th year of grantmaking —

(UNITY--) With $1000 each in funds, groups of students from 69 school programs across Maine will be working for the next several months to give out community grants as part of the annual Jumpstart Our Youth (JOY) philanthropy effort founded and funded by the Unity Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation and UniTel, Inc..  The 4,000 middle and high school students are all participants in the statewide Jobs for Maine’s Graduates (JMG) program.   Through the funding partnership, students learn about community needs and how to meet them by contributing “smart” money.

“After building Jumpstart Our Youth for four years we know these students are learning how to both assess community needs and fund the solutions.  As budding philanthropists they are becoming much more deliberate about making hard choices,” says Larry Sterrs, CEO of Unity Foundation.  “They ask if and how an approach is working.   Most importantly, they will stay involved with community issues as they grow up.”

A unique student philanthropy program, JOY requires the JMG students to invite local nonprofit agencies to apply for grants.  Then the students evaluate applications received, determine which nonprofits should be awarded grants, and communicate with all applicants.  They also add “sweat equity” through volunteering.  Aided by program guidelines, students are the sole decision-makers in the process.

As the fifth year of the program gets underway, students are becoming more sophisticated in their philanthropic practices, trying to create greater impact in their communities.  For example, last year students from the JMG programs at Messalonskee, Winslow and Waterville collaborated to raise additional money and to pool grant funds.  They awarded $8000 divided among five organizations that were chosen from a group of finalists who presented to the assembled schools in a pitch for the funds.

JMG identifies students who face barriers to education and guides them toward a successful path to continued education, a meaningful career and productive adulthood.

During the 2011-2012 school year, 3,755 JMG students from St. John Valley to North Berwick participated in the JOY program.  They received 218 online grant applications totaling $96,440 in funding requests and contributed $63,000 through 97 grants in addition to $5,350 raised independently by the students.  As a group, the students logged 4,025 hours in community volunteer time.